ASIM ready for launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo: ESA/DTU Space/Terma.

DTU part of six significant space missions this year

Monday 15 Jan 18


Morten Garly Andersen
Responsible for Communication
DTU Space
+45 45 25 97 69
At regular intervals in 2018, a mission to which DTU contributes will launch into space.

2018 will be a busy year at DTU Space, with the calendar being packed with important and exciting space missions concerning both the climate on Earth and phenomena in the distant Universe.

So far, DTU will be part of six significant missions.

Already in February, a unique mission is scheduled for launch. This concerns the satellite Ulloriaq which has been developed in collaboration with the Danish Armed Forces and the Danish company GomSpace. It is the first time that the Danish Armed Forces will have its own satellite. It is to contribute to monitoring the Danish Ministry of Defence’s area of responsibility in the Arctic.

The satellite contains radio receivers that can pick up position signals from ships and aircraft.

“We’re well underway with a busy and exciting year in which we’re participating in a number of new and important missions which are launched into space via international partners such as ESA and NASA,” says Morten Garly Andersen, Responsible for Communication at DTU Space.

“DTU Space contributes with scientific instruments and technology, and to the research to be performed in connection with the missions.”

Photo: NASA
Photo: NASA.

Powerful lightning bolts to be studied from ISS space station

In March, one of the largest DTU Space missions will be launched. The mission is the ASIM climate observatory, which is ready in the USA to be launched from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The mission is scheduled to be launched into space and reach the International Space Station (ISS) on 13 March using a SpaceX Falcon 9 two-stage rocket booster. ASIM—The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor—will be mounted on the outside on the Columbus module on ISS and, from here, it will observe and photograph the powerful electrical discharges from thunderclouds that reach upwards into space. These lightning discharges are known as 'red sprites', 'blue jets', 'halos', and 'elves', and they are still fairly unknown phenomena.

"We’re participating in a number of new and important missions which are launched into space via international partners such as ESA and NASA."
Morten Garly Andersen, DTU Space

The ASIM project is being realized through the European Space Agency, ESA. DTU Space is responsible for scientific management and parts of the instrument development. The Danish technology company Terma has overall technical responsibility for the observatory, while the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI) is participating in the scientific interpretation of the data.

During his stay at ISS in 2015, the Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen performed a preliminary study related to ASIM.

DTU Space also supplies star cameras to NASA’s ICON mission, which will investigate conditions in the zone in which the Earth’s atmosphere interfaces with space, and which is expected to be launched in the first half of 2018.

Two climate missions will monitor ice, sea, and land

April will see the launch of the climate satellites GRACE FO 1 and 2 by the American space agency NASA. They are to follow up on the climate satellites GRACE 1 and 2, which have just been decommissioned.

DTU Space delivers custom-built star cameras for satellite navigation and conducts climate research in—among other fields—rises in sea levels and ice melting on the basis of the data retrieved by the satellites.

ESA’s European Climate Change Programme is also expected to be extended this year with the launch of a new satellite in the large Sentinel climate satellite system for monitoring of ice, sea, and land. DTU Space uses data from this for research and to develop data systems for monitoring.

Searching for galaxies and exoplanets

This summer, the NASA mission TESS will be launched in search of exoplanets. DTU Space delivers star cameras and participates with a research group.

Yet another major event is waiting early in 2019. Here, the James Webb Space Telescope will be launched. The JWST is the world’s largest space telescope, and it will explore the very first galaxies formed in the Universe. DTU Space participates in the use of data from the mission and has supplied equipment for the telescope—including in the form of an ultra-strong carbon fibre construction that supports parts of the telescope.

In other words, there are lots of space events to look forward to here in 2018.

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